Egypt: disabled activists discuss how to widen campaign

Disabled education workers from Sharqiyya province in Egypt took their campaign for solidarity with their struggle for permanent contracts, a living wage and an end to discrimination to Cairo last week. A meeting at the Centre for Socialist Studies in Giza heard how a sit-in by hundreds of education workers outside the Sharqiyya governor’s offices in Zaqaziq was attacked by the police.

Protests by disabled workers, thousands of whom are employed by local and regional government and public sector companies on meagre wages, have multiplied in recent months – as have police attacks on demonstrators. Gharib Sulayman, a disability rights lawyer, told the meeting, “the police attack on the sit-in in Cairo last October was no accident. We’ve also seen similar scenes in Suez, Sohag and Kafr al-Shaikh”.

“The Muslim Brotherhood’s conception of disability is to focus on bodies which don’t function, but we say it is society which disables” he added. “You’re doing the same work as your colleagues, but for less wages. You are workers first and foremost, and what we need is solidarity not sympathy.”

Umran al-Khalifa and Mohammed Ibrahim

Umran al-Khalifa and Mohammed Ibrahim

Disabled activists at the meeting spoke powerfully about their frustration with the role of official groups such as the National Council for People with Special Needs. “How can the National Council represent us when it is appointed by the government?” said Abdel Fattah Youssry.

The meeting heard a message of support from Disabled People Against the Cuts in the UK (see below). “This solidarity is very important to us”, said Umran al-Khalifa. “Our colleagues who are carrying on the sit-in in Zaqaziq will be really encouraged to know that people in Britain are standing with us.”

There was a lively discussion about next steps for the campaign, including setting up a co-ordinating committee to unite protests across the country.

“We’re still alive and this issue isn’t going to die” said Hamdy Gabr, “it isn’t just about permanent contracts now, but about our right to a dignified life.”

Messages of solidarity

DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__biggerDisabled People Against Cuts

A message of support to our disabled brothers and sisters in Egypt.

As disabled activists in the UK we offer our support to our disabled brothers and sisters in Egypt who are fighting for justice and equality. Disabled people across the world are faced with discrimination, disadvantage and oppression. In the UK we face a government that is determined to undermine the rights won by disabled people in the past and to make us pay for a crisis that we did not cause. Disabled people Against Cuts {DPAC} is determined to resist these attacks with all of our strength and determination.

Disabled People Against Cuts {DPAC} in the UK offers our full support to you in your struggle. We wish you luck in your struggle and will do anything in our power to aid your victory. Please let us know of any support we can give you.

In Solidarity,
Rob Murthwaite, Debbie Jolly, Linda Burnip, Roger Lewis, Ellen Clifford, Andy Green.
On behalf of Disabled People Against Cuts National Steering Committee

toplogoNational Disabled Members Standing Committee, University and College Union (UCU)

The University and College Union’s  (UCU) National Disabled Members Committee send this message of solidarity and support to the disabled workers in Zagazig who have been subjected to police brutality whilst taking action to improve their working lives.

Helen Carr, National Head of Equality on behalf of the members of the National Disabled Members Standing Committee.

What you can do:

  • Send messages of support to for forwarding to the protesters 
  • Send messages of protest about the police attack to the Egyptian Minister of the Interior, Mr Mohamed Ibrahim ( copied to the Egyptian embassy in London (fax and postal address here)
  • Call on the Governor of Sharqiyya to provide permanent jobs at a living wage for the province’s disabled employees. Email
  • Take a picture of yourself with this sign (disabled_workers_solidarity) and send it to us on Facebook ( or by email


One thought on “Egypt: disabled activists discuss how to widen campaign

  1. Pingback: Event: MENA Solidarity Activists’ Workshop 29 June | MENA Solidarity Network

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